Well folks we’ve been home in the land of the free and the home of the brave for 365 days – that’s one full year, an orbit around the sun – from our 14 country Welsh’s World Tour (WWT), and all we can say is wow, what a difference a year can make. During our travels, time passed and was utilized so very differently than our now normal day-to-day. We feel like we lived 10 years of life in one month while traveling. Let me explain. Yesterday, I woke up (naturally), showered, ate, rode the bus full of “iPhone zombies”, worked from 8-6 not leaving my computer but for a trip to the bathroom or eat, came home, had dinner, talked with the wife, played with the dogs and read – a great day. Similar to most weekdays with maybe kickball and a night out thrown in there. Now let’s compare this to a day on the Welsh’s World Tour. Wake up as early as possible, maybe shower if there was time (usually wasn’t – too much to see and do), eat something, and then go, simply go! We would wander, talk to locals, take in as much history and culture from the influences we were fortunate enough to run into or fit into our itinerary (God bless my amazing wife and her planning abilities), whether that was a park, museum, old building, street performer, a kindred spirit we’d strike up a conversation with, a barista, anything! Every day was an unknown, an entirely new experience, and it was spent fully engaged and enthralled in the beauty of the world, and the lovely people that try and keep it that way. My message is not that one life is better than the other, it is simply that by living our dream, it has completely changed the way we want to live our 25,000 days we have left, if we’re lucky (Megan and I are going “Notebook” style, so the days remaining are the same). Over the past year the lessons and realizations from our journey have turned our thinking about life upside down and inside out, realizations we are so very grateful to have had, and happy to share.
- Break the routine and try something new. Live outside your box. – A championship sports team doesn’t run the same play over and over again, do they? No! Neither should you. Our travels felt like a 10 year experience because we were constantly outside of our comfort zones doing new things every day. Sure the time went fast, but it also felt like we were gone for years because of the constant change and many memorable moments. I’ve been working almost seven months, going through a similar routine that blends the days together making it all seem like one long work day, which I hate (largely the result of my job). I want some exciting and memorable moments. Break the routine and experience the variety of amazing things out in the world, it will blow your mind. Take risks and try new things. It can be something as simple as walking home a different way, or trying a hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Live and experience as much as possible while you can, you might even stumble upon something scary and new that makes your heart beat faster, hold onto that.
- The world is filled with beautiful people, go meet them – This was one of the best parts about traveling. Our parents were worried sick about us losing a kidney to the black market or getting mugged. Sure, anything can happen, but you can also die falling out of bed, but you don’t sleep in a crib anymore do you? You risk taker! Safety is important, especially when you’re traveling to new places you don’t know very well. Always do your research. Our experiences were all enriching, finding the common man or woman far more willing to help than to harm. In China a guy bought our airline tickets with money he didn’t have because our credit cards wouldn’t work (we got him cash ASAP), our hostel owner in Nepal was on two phones calling travel agents to get us home during a family emergency, sitting with us at the travel agency until we had tickets in our hands, then driving us to the airport. The list goes on. The real emotions start when we think about the many kindred spirits we met and will likely never see again. Some we built wonderful relationships with over a few days, some over months. They didn’t want to talk about Game of Thrones, work or how a friend totally flaked on them last week. Instead, we invested in getting to know each other, our past, what we’ll do when we get home, our common interests of travel, adventure, cultures and discussing the various differences between them all. At times it felt like a mini G8 summit with so many countries represented saying “what’s the deal with your countries’ _____?” Point being, put your iPhone on airplane mode and go meet the beautiful people of this world. Even in your own backyard. Volunteer, do something you enjoy and meet people with similar passions. Harness your inner six year old and go talk unafraid and unfiltered to people, just like you did on your first trip to the playground.
- You don’t need “stuff” to be rich – We always get the “you’re so lucky to have that experience, I wish I could do that” from people about our travels. Granted, as a result of hard work we were very fortunate, lucky, and smart enough to save a lot of money over the past six years. However, luck had nothing to do with us quitting our great jobs and planning a very scary and risky trip away from everything comfortable in our life. That was all balls and lady balls (go with it). And to be quite honest, we met a lot of travelers that had very little money with no one to bail them out if they didn’t find the next job. They would work a country and then travel to the next when the funds were there. They weren’t worried about having the “best of the best” of anything relating to material goods, they were worried about life experiences and living a life they deemed their dream at the time. And they were doing it! And now I am sitting in a cube, at what most would consider an amazing job opportunity, surrounded by pictures from our travels searching and wishing I had the same fire and richness in my heart that I did while we were traveling. Invest in memorable moments, in experiences where you can learn something new, hopefully getting paid to do what you love, and then share those experiences. You will be far richer than any person sitting in their giant house in front of their 50” TV, I promise.
- Live in the moment, hope and plan…a little for the future – We can spend all our days planning for the future, forgetting to live in the beautiful moments of today. Maybe that future comes, maybe it doesn’t; maybe you get hit in the face with one of life’s many curve balls and that future is no longer possible. It is so important to relish in the beauty of today, as far as I’m concerned today is all we have. We’ll plan for the future a bit, it’s necessary, but we’re not banking on it going 100% the way we have it thought out in our head right now. We want to be adaptable, allowing room for new experiences and opportunities to shape and build us, so we can live the best life possible. With no regret. We’re ok with the “oh wells” if an opportunity doesn’t pan out, but no “what ifs”. Be ready to roll with the punches and strong enough to throw your haymakers when the opportunity presents itself!
- Do what makes your heart beat faster – My beautiful wife, my little dogs, a good concert, engaging conversations, time with friends and family, laughter, an intense hockey game, traveling, the outdoors, etc., etc. these are all things that make my heart beat faster. In the non-cardio, somewhat figurative way of course. Some people will tell you to do what you love or follow your passion, but what exactly does that mean? To me it’s what makes your heart beat faster. It’s what excites me, fills me with joy, a sense of purpose allowing me to create something meaningful. These things provide for amazing memories and allow you to create great things. Do these things, all the time – find a job that makes your heart beat faster, a hobby, an event, a song – that’s living. These memories are where I’ll hang my hat at the end of my days. All I want to do is live a life I’m proud of, one where I let my heart beat as fast as possible, getting as many “lub dubs” in as possible. As a result I plan on having a giant grin on my face when I meet my maker in 25,000 days, knowing I left it all out there.
To Megan and me, those are the lessons we learned as travelers, as open-minded wanderers. That doesn’t mean that you have to travel to have these realizations. We do believe these are lessons not learned in a school, job, book or from a mentor. These are full on life experiences requiring you to step out of your comfort zone, to put yourself out there and try new things. This will enrich your life beyond your wildest dreams. Lessons we slowly realized on the road, but the full gravity of the situations and experiences didn’t smacked us in the face until we got home and the normality of our old ways of life tried to engulf us. We’ll never have that experience again, even if we tried, and we’re ok with that. We lived a dream, and now it’s time to incorporate pieces of it, and its lessons into our everyday life so we can begin to live other dreams.